Anti-terrorism judges on Friday charged a recent convert to Islam who stabbed a French soldier over the weekend with “attempted murder linked to a terrorist enterprise”.
The 22-year-old was arrested Wednesday after the stabbing of a soldier in a busy Paris commercial complex and transport hub of La Defense that came on the heels of the brutal murder of a soldier in London.
The suspect, Alexandre D., appeared in court in the French capital and was charged by judges Thierry Fragnoli and Gilbert Thiel, a source close to the case said.
The man admitted after his arrest that he had attacked Private First Class Cedric Cordiez. Cordiez has since been discharged from hospital.
Video footage from the shopping centre showed him buying two knives an hour prior to the attack on Saturday, and praying eight minutes before the stabbing.
Paris prosecutor Xavier Molins has said there was a clear intention to kill. Molins said the suspect had shown an “impressive determination” to carry out the attack, stabbing the soldier “several times” in the neck with a fold-out knife.
Reports have emerged that Alexandre D. had attracted the attention of local police for his “behaviour” but this information was not shared with the intelligence services.
This prompted French President Francois Hollande on Friday to urge better intelligence coordination.
“There has to be a better follow up of local information by the intelligence services,” he told the media networks France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde.
“The weakness was a piece of information which was not handled properly and it should be set right,” he said. “Every time that there is local information on an individual, it should be absolutely transmitted to the intelligence services.”
There were also problems with information sharing among intelligence agencies in the case of Mohamed Merah, the Islamist gunman who killed seven people, including three soldiers, in and around the southwestern city of Toulouse last year.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned after the latest attack that there are “several dozen, perhaps several hundred, potential Merahs in our country,” adding that young French Muslims were being “radicalised” on the Internet and by extremist imams.